It happened. I ran out of juice. It was my own fault.  I knew it would happen. And I paid the price.  

From Somerset to Cleveland is one of the longer stretches between chargers.  About 30 miles out, I noticed that I only had about 50 miles of rated range.  This should not be a problem.  In warm weather, going the speed limit or slightly more, it would not be a problem. 

But it is cold and hilly along the Pennsylvania and Ohio Turnpikes.   

I watched in horror as I was climbing a mild grade, the difference between the rated range and the distance to the supercharger narrowed from 20 miles to 3 miles.  No more buffer.  

Emergency battery conserving procedures went into effect.  I slowed down to 55 mph and put Sammy Hagar on the hi-fi set. Heat was turned off.  

I was talking on the phone. As such, the nice lady on the GPS shuts her yap while I'm talking. Ordinarily, this is a good thing for ladies to do. In my defense, it is a very tricky decision to make without voice guidance whether to zig or zag at this particular fork.  I zagged.  

"I 80 - 10 Miles"

That's what the sign said.   At that moment, the 1 mile of range turned to zero. I had just passed the supercharger on a limited access highway. 


When the Model S says 0, it means there are maybe a couple of miles remaining if you slow down.  That's what I did. 

I managed to get off the highway at the next exit, which was 4.3 miles away from the Supercharger.   With modern technology it is possible to know to the tenth of a mile how hozed you are at any moment. 

Behind the local dreck furniture store, the trucks had a row of standard household plugs, probably for engine block heaters.  

You should know that while you can plug in a Tesla to a standard wall jack, it charges at a maximum rate of 4 miles of range per hour.   It also turns out that if you sit in the car and run the heater, it doesn't even charge that fast.    

First step: call Tesla support and explain the situation.  When I bought the car, I didn't pay much attention to the warranty, and I knew some level of roadside assistance was included.  That level does not include running out of charge.   They can call a tow truck for you at your expense.  Meh.  I was kind of expecting magical Tesla fairies to come rescue me.   

Luckily(ish) I also have AAA. My wife has been insisting we buy it for 20 years now.  I never saw much value in it, but it made her more comfortable, and it has saved our collective asses on a half dozen occasions over those 20 years.  

So, I will state this publicly: Grace - you were right and I was wrong.   

I called AAA and they said it would be about 2 and a half hours before a truck could come and tow me to the Supercharger.  I opened up my AAA temporal translation app on my phone, and translated that to 4 hours.   

Maybe - just maybe - the 4 mph charge would be enough to get me 7 miles of range in two hours.    

Nope.  Remember, I was less than zero.    I was actually 4 miles in the hole.   There was no way I would be able to get to the supercharger on my own power. 

I did have enough juice to get to the other side of the parking lot, to the SAMs club and plugged into a wall jack in the gas station.  There is a certain irony in plugging in a depleted Tesla at a fuel station.     

The main reason that I moved is that one of societies ignorant helpers got his panties in a bunch about me "stealing power".   The guy was about my age and a truck driver.  He was filled with the wrath of a 50 year old dude at the pinnacle of his life's accomplishment lecturing a broken down motorist about stealing 22 cents worth of electricity.  Technically he was correct.  I was "stealing power", so I reached into my pocket, took out a quarter and offered it to him.  

"Here is the amount of electricity I would use in a day of charging.   You can keep the change, since I'll only be here until the tow truck show up."

He was not amused and offered to call the police and tattle on me. While apparently I had plenty of time, I really did not have the interest in engaging this yutz. So, I got into my car and creeped over to the SAMs club gas station.  There is a little booth there with standard plugs on the side.  There was nobody to ask, so I plugged in and called AAA to tell them of my new location.    

I then proceeded into SAMs club to use the facilities and warm up a little.   


I came back out to the local constabulary sniffing around my car. Apparently the booth attendant, I'll call her "Sheila", was kind of freaked out by a car plugged into her booth. 

Sometimes reason works, sometimes it doesn't.  The officer was firm but polite and told me I had to unplug because it was "store policy". I calmly and patiently explained that I had plugged in just to keep the battery warm while waiting for AAA, and that it was not drawing much power.   Then, discussion turned to the Tesla.  It takes a good half hour to go through all the features, all the while I'm still plugged in.   Eventually both the store manager and the cop come around, and Sheila invited me into the warm booth for another pleasant Q&A about the car while we waited for the truck.     

The entire ordeal took 5 hours of my life that I'll never get back.  

I've been at the supercharger for about an hour, and it is too late to go to the Cleveland Hard Rock.  I could make it to Toledo by 1:30 am.  Or I could just find a hotel here.    

Or I can drive a bit more and find a hotel on the way with a level2 charger.   

Stay tuned for what I decide.